Thursday, May 28, 2015

Temporary Insanity

Acrylics and collage, 5x5" on canvas panel
Or, if it ain't broke, don't fix it...

Last week, when I did all that pinning and wound up with right shoulder problems, I momentarily thought maybe I needed a new computer.  Although for no other reason than text and image size on my screen, which is easily fixable on my current system.

Tuesday, I stopped into my local computer shop and looked at the hot-off-the-press Lenovo laptop currently available.  I was merely looking, but by Tuesday evening I'd decided to buy it, although not for a couple weeks.

I didn't sleep well Tuesday night.  I did not have that feeling we're "supposed" to get when something new is on the horizon, that feeling of, "Ooh, I can't wait, I'm so excited."  Nope.  I felt unhappy, actually.

I woke up Wednesday thinking I could override that discord inside ~ you know, build the desire for a new computer, aka "manufacturing consent" in Noam Chomsky's words.  I spent yesterday cleaning up my hard drive, deleting files I no longer need, backing up all my data onto my external drive.  And reading reviews on Amazon of the latest version of Photoshop Elements.  I'm using Elements 7, which is several years old although it works perfectly for me/my needs.  (The issue for me is that although Elements comes with two licenses per disc, I'd already installed my copy on two different computers.  So I would have to buy another copy to install on a new computer.)  After spending at least an hour trying to decide whether to buy the latest version, 13, or get a new copy of an earlier version, I remembered that I had previously decided to not bother with Elements any longer, because I can get the photo manipulation tools I need online, for free.  So then I spent another couple hours previewing various online photo programs and found three that I like. 

It was late afternoon by this time.  And gradually it dawned on me ~ "Why am I buying a new computer?  For what reason?  Just because I sometimes like bigger images/font size on the screen, when everything else works perfectly just the way it is and nothing needs to be upgraded?"

I'd spent the day basically out of my body.  I hadn't even meditated in the morning.  The good thing was that while I was doing what I was doing, I was mindful of being out-of-body.  I literally watched myself go through this entire process.

My initial reaction to the idea of buying a new computer, on Tuesday evening, was, "It'll be cool to do something nice for myself."  By last night, I was like, "Why the hell would I want to put myself through the stress of all that totally unnecessary change?"

The upshot of 24 hours of temporary insanity is that I won't get a new computer until I truly need one.  Although I've had my current Lenovo laptop for nearly six years, I'm using the most recent stable version of Windows (7), I've got all the software I need and want and it all works perfectly together, and there's nothing I need or want in a computer that I don't already have.

There are always hidden costs to bringing something new into your life.  If you upgrade one piece of a system, likely other things need to be upgraded as well.  It all costs money (which is not the issue for me here, for once), and it takes its toll in stress, temporary inconvenience, a new learning curve, unnecessary complications, etc.  I already discovered, years ago actually, that "new and better" very rarely is, all things considered. 

The reality is that I'm virtually unAmerican, with my anti-materialistic, non-traditional, under-the-radar, simple-living minimalist ways.  And I love it here, in my corner of paradise.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Moving Along

This is the last of the series I did for the second lesson of 8 Great Paintings.  Although I may revisit this idea in future.

Meanwhile, I've begun the next lesson but I haven't painted in a few days.  My back has been bothering me so I spent most of the weekend resting and reading.

The reason my back ~ right shoulder, actually ~ has been out is because I finally got on Pinterest late last week and I spent more time pinning abstract art than I should have.  In other words more work with the mouse than my right shoulder/arm/wrist could reasonably handle.  And I've hardly scratched the surface on Pinterest.  I might go back to merely saving images on my hard drive, which I've been doing for years.  All just to look at for inspiration, of course.

Today is a holiday in the States...just another Monday as far as I'm concerned.  I do hope to paint.  Have a good week.  xx

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We Have Winners!

Collage on painted background, 8x8 inches
Thanks for your comments and entries into the Giveaway.

The winner of the Mail Art Package is Corrine Gilman ~ and I already have your address.

The winner of the EcoDyed Fabric Bundle is Mary Ann Lehrer Plansky ~ and I will need your address.  You can email it to me right here.

Congrats to both of you!

Hope you all have a great weekend, and a safe holiday weekend for those of you in the States.

See you next week.  xx

Friday, May 22, 2015

Plants Are People Too

Acrylics, magazine pages, digital imagery, 10x10" on stretched canvas
This is the next piece in my little series.  This time I used pieces of torn contemporary magazine pages and big letters, in place of the vintage papers used in the other paintings in this series.


I've had five 12-gallon tubs of bamboo growing outside Rose Cottage for about five years.  Originally there were two bamboo plants that I'd planted in the ground elsewhere, then I dug them up and divided the two into five plants when I relocated here.

They're clumping bamboos, not runners, so they'll stay in a rather confined area by growth habit, spreading out from the center gradually.  Still, they were never really happy in tubs, although they did have a couple of good growing years here.  I'd bought other ornamental grasses in past years that grew in tubs, two of which also seriously needed to be in the ground after a year or two.

I decided to gift these guys to Miranda's Rescue, to plant in the ground on the rescue property.  During the past few months while I was waiting for the plants to actually be picked up, I kept going back and forth in my mind about how many of the bamboos to let go of at this point, whether to keep two or three here.  Because I'd gotten really attached to these plants.  Bamboo holds a place of mythic proportions in my worldview.

On Tuesday, I decided to let them all go, and on Wednesday, seven big tubs of plants were out of here.  I imagined I'd miss the bamboos terribly.  But I haven't, not at all.  I realized that for five years I had been harboring this sense of responsibility to the plants that I subsequently couldn't fulfill.  In the end it became far more important for me to make sure the plants have good lives and grow well than to keep them at Rose Cottage for my ego's sake.  So a huge weight, that I didn't even realize I'd been carrying, was released.

Freedom is at the other side of letting go.  Everything is a metaphor of our lives.

And now my garden contains enough plants, and not too many.  Nothing appears to be missing, visually.  Things are tidier, more compact.  Suits me today.

I'm still taking comments as entries into my Giveaway.  I'll do a drawing tomorrow morning.  If you're unable to leave a comment on the blog, email me here to do so.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

El Seven (L-7)

Acrylics, vintage papers, digital imagery, 10x10" on stretched canvas
This is the third piece in that small series of paintings I'm doing, with acrylics, vintage papers, and digital imagery on tissue paper.  I have two more to show you in coming days.

I'm still taking entries for my 400K Giveaway, and you're welcome to enter as many times as you like.  My post from Monday has photos of the prizes.  Comments on today's post, as well as Friday's, will count.  Just be sure to let me know which prize you want.

We're deep into May's usual lousy weather on the North Coast ~ although we did have a heatwave last May.  There's rarely "normal" weather anywhere anymore.  All we can do is hang on for the ride.  The dismal grayness, though, do not inspire me to want to do much besides read.

Toward that end, I recently read the two most recent books by Icelandic author Arnalder Indridason; Blood on Snow by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo; and am close to finishing The Purity of Vengence, Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen's latest Dept. Q novel.  I have one more Inspector Lynley book to read in the series, until the next is released later this year.

Recently seen via Netflix ~ Wild and Big Eyes, both recent films; Elsa & Fred, a Spanish/Argentinian film; and Vitus, a Swiss film about a young piano prodigy.  I should receive Selma from Netflix today ~ looking forward to watching it.

'Til Friday...xx

Monday, May 18, 2015

400,000 and counting...

That big number was reached sometime Sunday afternoon.  To say Thank You for your loyal readership over the years, I'm giving away two bundles of goodies, and I'll do a separate drawing for each.  The package on top is a selection of eco dyed fabrics, and lace (some of which has also been eco dyed).  The package below is an assortment of mail art goodies, including a snack baggie full of international stamps.

To enter the drawings, leave a comment on this or any other post of mine this week, and tell me which drawing you want to enter.  Also let me and other readers know what you're working on creatively this year.  I'll take entries through this Friday, May 22.  If for some reason Blogger won't let you leave a comment (it happens), email me to do so.

Good luck, and thanks again for reading!  xx 

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Rather Large Number

Acrylics, vintage papers, digital imagery on 10x10" stretched canvas
This is the companion piece to the last painting I posted.  The digital image I used here was a photo of rolls of handmade paper in a local shop, taken a number of years ago.  This is the fourth or fifth time I've used that image, in one iteration or another.

So, in the next two or three days, the all-time hits to this blog will reach 400,000!  That's a lot of page loads in seven years.  Naturally, I'll be having a Giveaway, about which I'll post info and images on Monday.

This has been a busy week for me, and I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  Hope you have a good one.  xx

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Onto Something

Acrylics, vintage papers, digital imagery on 10x10 stretched canvas
This is one of two pieces I did for Lesson 2 in 8 Great Paintings ~ acrylics, vintage papers, digital imagery on 10 x 10 inch stretched canvas.

I diverged quite a bit from the lesson, meaning I took what I liked from it and left the rest behind.  I'm very happy with this piece, and the second, which I'll post in the next day or two.  Largely because I feel I'm onto something here.

My use of digital images was intended to replace the lesson's use of copyright free designs transferred onto the painted surface.  In order to transfer photo imagery with medium, the images must be toner or laser copied.  I don't have access to a laser printer and I'm too lazy to take images to the local copy shop.  That transfer-with-medium process is hit or miss anyway, it often doesn't work well.

I'd much rather use my own imagery to begin with, and I'd already discovered making and using tissue paper transparencies.  There is one image in this piece, a historical photo of a New York street scene on the left, that isn't my own.  Everything else here, and everything going forward, will be my own imagery.

The images I'm using are photos I took during my surface-design phase, largely images of fabrics that I designed.  I turn off the colors of an image, i.e. make it gray scale.  Depending on the dark to light balance, I might invert the image, i.e. turn it into a negative of itself.  Then I print on tissue paper, cut to size, that has been ironed onto freezer paper also cut to size.  I just put the sheets into my inkjet printer.  It can be dicey separating the tissue from the freezer paper but it just takes patience.  The white areas of the tissue, then, are totally transparent.

I've thought about doing the same thing with deli paper, but I don't care for its translucency.  When I took Jane Davies' classes a while back, I painted shapes on both deli and tissue papers, to adhere with medium over painted areas on some pieces.  I always prefer using the painted tissue papers because the white areas essentially melt away visually, whereas the deli papers leave a haze.

In addition to the second piece that I did for the lesson, I have three more similar paintings in process.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Time for a nap...

Art Journal collage, March 2015
It feels like time is moving backwards...we're having winter weather here on the North Coast.  Cold and windy with some showers.  My heater is on higher than it was for much of actual winter.  No complaints, really ~ this is still California, after all.  Drought-striken, with frequently wacky weather.

I've prepped a couple small canvases for Lesson 2 of 8 Great Paintings, and plan to begin painting tomorrow.

This weather makes me feel tired, more tired than usual.  I want to hunker down and read and I do, often.

Hope you have a good week.  The couch and another book are beckoning me...  xx

Friday, May 8, 2015


This is another piece for Lesson 1 of 8 Great Paintings.  I love this one, 11 x 14 inches on canvas panel.  I'm feeling more confident about painting than I was earlier in the week.

That's all the news that's fit to print at the moment.  Have yourselves a great weekend.  xx

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Do Over

This is the new version of the painting below, which I did for one of the lessons in Layer Love 2.0.

I just never liked the original.  What I'm finding is that I can learn the techniques just fine and get a good handle on them.  But in the end I'd rather paint more freely and spontaneously.  Less contrived.

Dear friend Corrine Gilman, from Sparkle Day Studio, left these comments to my last post:

"One of the things I taught in my intuitive painting workshops is to take some paints and just cover the surface with color every which way until something emerges.  Or take some crayons/pastels and scribble.  Gets the juices flowing and starts a way forward.  Or start journaling all over the canvas and then begin to cover it with paint, or collage every which way until you "feel" something showing up.  Trust the Brush."  And then, "It's easy to get lost in the head and not get out of your own way.  Most of the time now I (she) can just do.  Another good one is if it's ugly, make it uglier and see where it goes.  Anything can be painted over with gesso!"

I've taken her words to heart.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Off My Game

Collage on painted background on matte board,
5x7 inches
I'm feeling iffy about the last couple paintings I here's a tiny collage from a couple months ago.

I've only begun my latest online class, and already I'm wishing I had it in me to be able to just paint.  If I'm not working to interpret a lesson, loosely or not, or looking at other artists' work for inspiration, then I'm empty of what to do with paint on a substrate.  Guess this is another way of saying that "conversation in my head about not yet finding my own voice" is back for a visit.  Have to remind myself, yet again, that I'm just doing all this to learn, that there are no have to's, no competition, and no rush to get wherever.  But still...

I see a lot of work out there that looks like it was done with a lot of freedom, a lot of unleashed movement, a lot of letting go.  I'm still holding back.  Although I am exactly where I am...which is really the only place I can be now.

Big day in town tomorrow ~ my first trip in a month, and I won't go again for another five weeks.  So far this schedule is working for me.  It has become rather nightmareish the last few years, driving into and around Eureka ~ there are so many bad drivers and too many cars on the road.   I don't know how people live in metro areas and drive all the time.  I couldn't do it anymore; I feel blessed that I don't have to.

Friday, May 1, 2015


This is my first painting for Lesson 1 of 8 Great Paintings, my second Julie Prichard class.  As I did in the last class, I'll be making way more than eight paintings.

This was an exercise in weighting the painting rather heavily on the bottom.  My piece is small, 8 x 10 inches on a canvas I had previously gessoed and etched.  Then I painted over with black gesso and built the painting on that.

Looks like it's going to be a beautiful weekend here, temps in the low 60s.  I heard it was nearly 90 degrees in San Francisco yesterday ~ that's just too hot for this time of year and that place.  Late last week we were hit on the North Coast with haze from forest fires in Siberia; this weekend it's expected to be much the same.  This really is a small planet we live on.

And speaking of Earth and climate, I just finished reading Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.  If you really want to know what's happening around the world regarding the climate crisis ~ and there are bad and good things happening ~ I can't recommend this book highly enough.  It certainly opened my eyes.

Have a great weekend.  xx

p.s.  Julie posted my painting on her Facebook page today.  Here's her blurb:  " Great! The painting is on Facebook now... tell your friends if they want to join in the fun, they can save $10 off this workshop this weekend ! Use the code MAYDAY at check out. :)"  Got it?  Enroll in 8 Great Paintings this weekend and save $10!